Bear Clan patrols Thunder Bay to protect city's most vulnerable

From CTV - December 7, 2017

When night falls in Thunder Bay, Ont., a team of Indigenous volunteers begins patrolling the streets in search of the citys most vulnerable.

They call themselves the Thunder Bay Bear Clan Patrol, and their mission is simple: to help protect the homeless and other groups from violence in the communitys most dangerous neighbourhoods.

Earlier this week, CTVs Manitoba Bureau Chief joined the group on their nightly patrol. Each member said theyd experienced discrimination on the streets, like racist insults and even being pelted by eggs.

Volunteer Kristen Redsky said she was once nearly abducted by a taxi driver.

So I kind of wanted to help out in any way and volunteer and be extra eyes, Redsky told CTV News.

In the past two years, an influx of drugs and sex trafficking has made the citys downtown more dangerous. New gangs, which are believed to have come from Toronto and Ottawa, are fighting over what they consider a lucrative northern market for drugs. Its also meant that more Indigenous women are being forced into the sex trade.

Thunder Bay Police Service spokesperson Chris Adams said officers are aware of the problem.

Its fair to say in the last couple of years that theres been more of a heightened awareness of human trafficking and theres been more training for the officers. And its definitely something were concerned about, Adams said.

As police crack down on crime, the Bear Clan Patrol slowly combs the streets by car, using a headlight to scan the darkness. They regularly drive past the train tracks looking for anyone who may have been beaten and abandoned.


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